Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pag-IBIG Fund foots P500 Million face job for Noli de Castro

(Being formerly employed with Pag-IBIG Fund or the Home Mutual Development Fund under its Public Affairs and Information Office and aware of the mandate of this housing finance company, I feel strongly about this issue.)

Some people don't need to go to Vicky Belo to have their faces prettified, they go to Pag-IBIG Fund and spend up to P500 Million of its members contributions to put out all manner of advertisements featuring their face and voice.

Vice President Noli De Castro, who was appointed to lead key government shelter agencies and is the Chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund, is the main endorser and major beneficiary of the advertisements.

De Castro has denied that he is using Pag-IBIG Fund commercials to prop up his political image for the 2010 elections. But then again, he hasn't denied that the Pag-IBIG Fund commercials have contributed significantly to his popularity ratings.

He doesn't have a top rating TV program anymore and his only exposure comes from either the news or the Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements. Any advertising or PR guy will tell you that media exposure through the news only gives marginal publicity points when compared to media exposure through paid advertisements that really drives up the numbers.

For 2009, a total of P208.5 million has been allotted for the Pag-IBIG advertisements. A big chunk of the budget (P109 million) goes to TV placements. The rest goes to radio placements (P54 million), print media (P16 million), cinema placements (P9 million), and sponsorships (P11.7 million).

At least one person has come up to fight what looks very much like a gross abuse of power and lack of delicadeza.

The issue of pillaging Pag-IBIG Fund for political gain was brought up by Attorney Ernesto Francisco who is seeking a court injunction against de Castro and seven other high-ranking government officials from using public funds “for their respective political campaigns.”

Francisco said the ads violate Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The case is pending at the sala of Judge Marino dela Cruz Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 22. Francisco also wants the officials to return to the government the funds used to pay for the ads.

The lawyer has estimated that to date, Pag-IBIG Fund has already spent a whopping P500 Million on advertisments featuring De Castro.

What makes Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements particularly effective in driving up the popularity ratings of De Castro is the fact that the institution has a ready audience (Pag-IBIG Fund contributors all over the country).

Being Chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund, Vice President De Castro ought to be more involved on the policy level of the organization and perhaps, in terms of managerial line functions, the President and CEO of Pag-IBIG Fund would be a better endorser -- because he is actually the one who is responsible for crafting the implementation of Pag-IBIG's loan facilities.

The job of endorsing Pag-IBIG Fund contributions would have fallen on the shoulders of Pag-IBIG Fund President Miro Quimbo, who is a better looking guy than De Castro. But one wonders what really became of him? Some say that his career at Pag-IBIG Fund suffered a major reversal at the behest of De Castro which might be a gain for De Castro and a loss for Pag-IBIG Fund members.

The thing on my mind right now is whether or not Quimbo put his foot down and tried to temper De Castro's ad spending?

In any case, Pag-IBIG Vice President for Public Affairs and Information Margie Jorillo testified in the case filed by Francisco that housing loans extended by the Pag-IBIG Fund increased during the period of de Castro’s advertisements.

From 46,041 loans in 2007, equivalent to P22 billion, it increased by 36 percent to 62,507 loans in 2008, equivalent to P34 billion.

Jorillo was my former boss at Pag-IBIG Fund and a breast cancer survivor, naturally she will justify Pag-IBIG's spending for the ads.

Then again, her claims that De Castro's appearance in the ads was abbsolutely essential to the increase in borrowings falls flat.

What drives up the availment of housing loans is not advertisements. Economic conditions make housing loans attractive.

Over the course of the past two years, the cost of construction has plummetted to levels that make building houses cheaper and ergo, housing loans availed under the present conditions will enable borrowers to build either bigger or better appointed homes.

Then again, the question is, who were the borrowers? How many of them were first time home owners? How many went to people who are buying second homes?

The mission of Pag-IBIG Fund is primarily to provide employees low cost home loans so that they can afford to buy their own homes.

Just imagine, if you will, if Pag-IBIG Fund plowed the P500 Million spent on advertising into the provision of more home loans.

If it provided home loans of P1 Million each, that would lead to at least 500 new home owners.

More to the point, companies usually engage in advertising in order to drive up the sale or availment of their services.

From the looks of it, De Castro's P500 Million advertising campaign shouldered by Pag-IBIG Fund drove up the number of borrowers to 16,466. This means that Pag-IBIG fund spent P30,000 in advertising per borrower and I just hope that the advertising cost can be recouped by the earnings on the home loans it has put out.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...